SECURITY at one of Sydney’s biggest hospitals is so lax that anyone can walk into the morgue and claim a body without showing identification, prompting fears that corpses could be wrongly removed or defiled.
Undertakers have blasted Royal North Shore Hospital for its cavalier attitude to security, saying it showed management had ”integrity and moral issues”.
The hospital was the only one in Sydney where it was possible for members of the public to enter the mortuary’s freezer, which stores up to 10 bodies, and ”help themselves”, the secretary of the Funeral Industry Association, Graham Stewart, said yesterday.
He said undertakers were in fear that the wrong body could be buried or cremated before hospital staff had checked the paperwork, a particular concern for Jews or Muslims, who must usually be buried within 24 hours of death, or on days when two people with the same surname were in the morgue.
”It’s been going on for years and it’s appalling, but the health department told us not to complain to the hospital because they could make things worse for us,” Mr Stewart said.
At other hospitals, undertakers were required to submit detailed paperwork at the medical records office before being escorted to the mortuary by a porter and monitored by a morgue attendant while they removed the body.
”Not at Royal North Shore,” the proprietor of Mannings Funerals, John Manning, said yesterday.
”Anyone can walk in there, pick up a body without any paperwork and nobody would be any the wiser.”